Taraji P. Henson is getting candid about the abuse she suffered while in a relationship with her son’s father.

In her new book, Around the Way Girl: A Memoir ,  Henson said she met Mark when she was just 17-years-old. During a brief break-up, Mark fathered 2 children with 2 other women, but in the early 90’s when Henson was at Howard University, they got back together and she got pregnant.

After their son’s birth, things got physical. Henson described the first time Mark hit her.

“The next thing I knew, Mark’s balled-up fist was coming straight for my face. I fell onto the bed crying and holding my mouth; blood seeped off my lips and across my teeth,” Henson writes. “Droplets splashed across my shoes … slowly creeping into the fibers of my suede boots.”

After she saw the blood, Henson writes that she screamed at him: “This is over! Get your s— and get out!”

Henson said her father wanted her to stay with Mark, but she didn’t.

“With that separation, my forever man, my first love, was no more,” she writes.

Henson raised her son on her own, with Mark making appearances every now and then. She also recalled the last time Mark saw their son. On Christmas, during a game of tic-tac-toe, their son became upset at his loss and Mark advised him not to get mad, but “Use your head, black man.”

Three weeks later, Mark was killed in a fight after a confrontation over slashed tires.

While Henson was devastated by Mark’s death, she continued to fight for success for herself and Marcell.

“I’m not some fantasy. I’m tangible,” Henson once said while reflecting on her role as Cookie. “And I bring that realness not only to the screen, where it deserves to be, but also out into the world.”


From Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner, Taraji P. Henson, comes an inspiring and funny book about family, friends, the hustle required to make it from DC to Hollywood, and the joy of living in your own truth.

With a sensibility that recalls her beloved screen characters, including Yvette, Queenie, Shug, and the iconic Cookie from Empire, yet is all Taraji, the screen actress writes of her family, the one she was born into and the one she created. She shares stories of her father, a Vietnam vet who was bowed but never broken by life’s challenges, and of her mother who survived violence both in the home and on DC’s volatile streets. Here too she opens up about her experiences as a single mother, a journey some saw as a burden but which she saw as a gift.

Around the Way Girl is also a classic actor’s memoir in which Taraji reflects on the world-class instruction she received at Howard University and the pitfalls that come with being a black actress. With laugh-out-loud humor and candor, she shares the challenges and disappointments of the actor’s journey and shows us that behind the red carpet moments, she is ever authentic. She is at heart just a girl in pursuit of her dreams.

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